Luke Romano played 136 games for the Crusaders and is a staunch Canterbury man, but as David Leggat discovered, he’s surprised himself at how much he’s enjoyed playing with the Blues.
At first glance it seemed an unlikely partnership, but the Blues and Luke Romano liaison has proved a winner for both parties this season.
With All Black lock Patrick Tuipulotu having headed to Japan, the Blues needed an experienced hand at scrum and lineout time for this year’s Super Rugby Pacific, but also someone with a ton of wisdom to help guide the younger forward collective through the season.
Romano was told at the start of this year that he was unwanted after 12 years as part of the Crusaders furniture. Blues coach Leon MacDonald spied an opportunity.
Contact was made but Romano initially wasn’t interested.‘
’He said he thought I could be a really good fit here, but by no means was it an easy decision,’’ Romano said.‘
’I’ve always been incredibly loyal. Canterbury and Christchurch are my home but at the end of the day, sometimes loyalty can be a good thing; sometimes it can hamstring you.
‘’I’d told Leon no a couple of times, but Leon being Leon he kept ringing.’
’So Romano spoke to friends who had played in the professional environment and they were supportive.
The decision revolved around his family.
‘’With the borders remaining shut for my hunting business, I needed an income and I still wanted to play rugby, still love it.
’’The ageless 36-year-old Romano has had a significant impact this season and has been playing good rugby. It’s given him a fresh, late lease on rugby life and the Blues have been the beneficiary of the 31-cap All Black’s accumulated wisdom as they rattled up wins in the round robin section.
What’s more, if Romano had not made the move north he would not have acquired his new nickname either.‘
’We call him Tyson Fury,” flanker-cum-lock Tom Robinson said.
Continue this story in our Jun/ July issue.
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